Brooklyn’s music scene is one of the most esteemed on the planet, and for good reason.
It’s a place where a ton of musicians and bands cut their teeth before becoming famous in the mid to late 2000s. It was the epicenter of the indie rock universe. But with gentrification, the high cost of living, and the closure of a few major venues, the community has been a little off lately, but there’s still great music coming out of the New York borough.
A new example is Sunflower Bean, a trio that put their own spin on glam rock style, creating pristine and substantial tunes.
On February 26, at the Space Ballroom in Hamden, they will take the stage with Philadelphia noise punks Empath and local alternative rock trio Kim Normal opening.
I had a chat with bassist and vocalist Julia Cumming, guitarist and backing vocalist Nick Kivlen and drummer Olive Faber about coffee and sunflower seeds, from a DIY culture, a new single they recently released and a new album to follow soon.
DR: Sunflower Bean takes its name from Nick’s obsession with sunflower seeds and Olive’s love of coffee and coffee beans. So Nick, do you have a favorite brand or flavor of Sunflower seeds and Olive, what is your favorite type of coffee? Do you take it black or do you take it a different way?
Nick Kivlen: I don’t, but I like trying a lot of different strains.
Olive Faber: Every morning I wake up and put three tablespoons of Chock Full o’ Nuts in my little Mr. Coffee machine along with oat milk and sugar. It’s my favorite type of coffee.
DR: Well, the best way to have coffee is to keep it simple. Julia, before joining Sunflower Bean, you were part of the indie pop duo Supercute with Rachel Trachtenburg. Going from this musical project to this one, what required you the most adaptation and did you initially have to change your musical perspective by diving into a different style?
Julia Cumming: My heart has always been in the same place musically since I was a kid. Both bands are definitely from a DIY aesthetic, so even though the genres were different, Sunflower Bean has always been a natural home for me. I always wanted to rock and I was really inspired by Nick and Olive. Rachel and I are still great friends and write together to this day.
DR: It’s great that you were able to maintain this friendship and this collaboration. What musicians or bands did you bond with when you first started writing together, and how do you think Sunflower Bean evolved in terms of collaborating and developing ideas?
Olive Faber: I think we really bonded originally on things like the Velvet Underground, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, DIIV and other local bands that were around at that time. We felt a lot of initial camaraderie as the three youngest people on the scene for years. We’ve always been super collaborative, but when we were making our new album Headful Of Sugar, we were recording a lot while we were writing, which led to a ton of collaborations in different ways than before.
DR: Speaking of this album, on February 8, you announced that it would be released on May 6 with the release of the first single “Who Put You Up To This?” accompanied by a video clip. Listening to it, the track has this harmonious psychedelic pop vibe, so what’s the vision behind the song?
Olive Faber: From a production point of view, we wanted to do something heavy but also light. Something that would kind of sum up the purpose of the song which is to get rid of those parts of yourself that are holding you back from being who you really want to be. It’s heavy crap, but sometimes when you actually do it, it can feel like child’s play.
DR: What can people expect from Headful Of Sugar when it releases?
Julia Cumming: I think people should go there with an open mind and just have fun on the ride. The album is going on a journey and we’re really excited to see how people feel once they’re on it.
Olive Faber: People always have their own opinions, so I don’t really like putting ideas on what our next album will sound like before it’s out. Just go listen!